Menu
Amazon Simple Email Service
Developer Guide

Amazon SES Enforcement FAQs

If the emails you send result in excessive bounces, complaints, or other issues, your sending abilities might be placed on probation or suspended. This process is called enforcement. In these cases, you will receive a notification at the email address associated with your AWS account.

This section contains FAQs on the following enforcement-related topics:

Amazon SES Probation FAQ

Q1. I received a probation notice. What does that mean?

We have detected a significant issue with the sending on your account and we're giving you time to fix it. You can still send normally for now, but if you don't fix the problem in the allotted timeframe or sending allowance, your Amazon SES sending privileges might be suspended.

Q2. Will I always be notified if I am put on probation?

Yes. You will receive a notification at the email address of the AWS account associated with the Amazon SES probation.

Q3. Will the Amazon SES probation affect my use of other AWS services?

You will still be able to use other AWS services while your Amazon SES account is on probation. However, if you request a service limit increase for another AWS service that sends outbound communications (such as Amazon SNS), that request may be denied until the probation on your Amazon SES account is lifted.

Q4. What should I do if I'm on probation?

You should do the following:

  • If your situation allows it, stop sending mail until you fix the problem. Although probation does not affect your ability to send mail through Amazon SES, if you continue to send mail without first making changes, you are putting your continued sending at risk.

  • Look at the email you received from us for a summary of the issue.

  • Investigate your sending to determine what aspect of your sending specifically triggered the issue.

  • Once you have made your fixes, send us an appeal telling us about the fixes you made (see Q6. How do I submit an appeal?). Note that you should appeal your probation only after you've made your changes—do not submit an appeal outlining changes you plan to make. If you do, we will ask you to contact us again once the fixes are actually in place. If we find that you have fixed the problem, we'll take you off probation.

  • Be sure to provide any information we specifically request. We need this information to evaluate your case.

Q5. What is an appeal?

An appeal is when you reply to a probation or suspension notification (or email ses-enforcement@amazon.com from the email address associated with your AWS account) and provide the specific information we need to determine whether we can remove the probation or suspension. For a list of information to provide, see Q6. How do I submit an appeal?.

Q6. How do I submit an appeal?

Just reply to the probation notification. If you cannot find the probation notification, send your appeal to ses-enforcement@amazon.com from the email address associated with your AWS account. In your appeal, you should explain in as much detail as possible the following three things:

  • An explanation of how and why you think the problem occurred.

  • A list of changes you have already made to address the issue (not changes you plan to make).

  • An explanation of why you believe these changes will prevent the problem from happening again.

Please read the FAQ specific to your issue (for example, bounces) to see if there is additional information you need to provide in your appeal.

Note

Failure to provide this information will delay the appeal process because we will request the remaining information before we can make a decision. In addition, be sure to provide any additional information we specifically request during the appeal correspondence.

Q7. What if my appeal isn't accepted?

We will respond to you explaining why your appeal wasn't accepted, and you will often have the option of appealing again after you address the issue. For example, we might ask you for more information, and once you provide the information, your appeal might be accepted. As another example, if you tell us how you will fix the problem and haven't actually fixed it, we'll ask you to contact us again once you've actually fixed the issue.

Q8. Can you help me diagnose the problem?

Typically we can give you only a high-level overview of your issue (for example, that you have a problem with bounces). You will need to investigate the root cause on your end.

Q9. How will I know if I'm off probation?

We will provide this information in our response to your appeal, or in some cases you will receive an automated notification at the email address associated with your AWS account. The notification will indicate either that you're off probation, or that your account has been suspended because you haven't fixed the problem.

Q10. Will I always have a probation period if there's a problem?

No. There are two cases in which you might not be provided a probation period:

  • If your sending problem is very severe, you might be immediately suspended. As with any suspension, we will send you a notification at that time.

  • If you show a pattern of repeated probations, eventually you might be suspended rather than being put on probation again. For this reason, it is important to address the underlying problem rather than just the specific incident that caused a specific probation. For instance, if a particular campaign triggers a probation, you must do more than simply stop that campaign. You need to determine which properties of the campaign were problematic and ensure that you have processes in place so that your future campaigns won't have the same issue.

Q11. What if I make my fixes shortly before the probation is due to expire?

Contact us through the appeal process to let us know that you fixed the problem.

Q12. Can I get help from my AWS representative or Premium Support?

If you are actively working with an AWS account representative, we will contact him or her regarding your probation, and he or she might be able to help you to better understand the problem. Feel free to contact your representative directly as well. If you are signed up for Premium Support, you might also want to engage that team to help with this process.

Amazon SES Suspension FAQ

Q1. I received a suspension notice. What does that mean?

We had to shut down your account due to a critical issue with your sending, so you can no longer send emails. There are three scenarios in which a suspension can occur:

  • You are put on probation for a sending problem (for example, bounces), the probation expires, and the issue has not been resolved.

  • Your problem is so severe that you were immediately suspended without a probation period.

  • You have a history of repeated probations for a particular issue, and the issue reoccurred.

Q2. Will I always be notified if I am suspended?

Yes. You will receive a notification at the email address of the AWS account associated with the Amazon SES suspension.

Q3. Will the Amazon SES suspension affect my use of other AWS services?

You will still be able to use other AWS services while your Amazon SES account is suspended. However, if you request a service limit increase for another AWS service that sends outbound communications (such as Amazon SNS), that request may be denied until the suspension on your Amazon SES account is lifted.

Q4. What should I do if my account has been suspended?

You should do the following:

  • Look at the email you received from us for a summary of the issue.

  • Investigate your sending to determine what aspect of your sending specifically triggered the issue.

  • Once you have fixed the issue, send us an appeal telling us about the fixes you made (see Q6. How do I submit an appeal?). Note that you should appeal your suspension only after you've made your changes— do not submit an appeal outlining changes you plan to make. If you do, we will ask you to contact us again once the fixes are actually in place.

  • Be sure to provide any information we specifically request. We need this information to evaluate your case.

Q5. What is an appeal?

An appeal is when you reply to a probation or suspension notification (or email ses-enforcement@amazon.com from the email address associated with your AWS account) and provide the specific information we need to determine whether we can remove the probation or suspension. For a list of information to provide, see Q6. How do I submit an appeal?.

Q6. How do I submit an appeal?

Just reply to the suspension notification. If you cannot find the suspension notification, send your appeal to ses-enforcement@amazon.com from the email address associated with your AWS account. In your appeal, you should explain in as much detail as possible the following three things:

  • An explanation of how and why you think the problem occurred.

  • A list of changes you have already made to address the issue (not changes you plan to make).

  • An explanation of why you believe these changes will prevent the problem from happening again.

Read the FAQ specific to your issue (for example, bounces) to see if there is additional information you need to provide in your appeal.

Note

Failure to provide this information will delay the appeal process because we will request the remaining information before we can make a decision. In addition, be sure to provide any additional information we specifically request during the appeal correspondence.

Q7. What if my appeal isn't accepted?

We will respond to you explaining why your appeal wasn't accepted, and you will often have the option of appealing again after you address the issue. For example, we might ask you for more information, and once you provide the information, your appeal might be accepted. As another example, if you tell us how you will fix the problem and haven't actually fixed it, we'll ask you to contact us again once you've actually fixed the issue.

Q8. Can you help me diagnose the problem?

Typically we can give you only a high-level overview of your issue (for example, that you have a problem with bounces). You will need to investigate the root cause on your end.

Q9. How will I know if my account has been reinstated?

We will provide this information in our response to your appeal, or in some cases you will receive an automated notification at the email address associated with your AWS account. You can also try sending an email to yourself through Amazon SES (for example, using the Amazon SES console). If the attempt is successful, then you have been reinstated.

Q10. Can I get help from my AWS representative or Premium Support?

If you are actively working with an AWS account representative, we will contact him or her regarding your probation, and he or she might be able to help you to better understand the problem. Feel free to contact your representative directly as well. If you are signed up for Premium Support, you might also want to engage that team to help with this process.

Amazon SES Bounce FAQ

Q1. Why do you care about my bounces?

High bounce rates are often used by entities such as ISPs, mailbox providers, and anti-spam organizations as indicators that senders are engaging in low-quality email-sending practices and their email should be blocked or sent to the spam folder.

Q2. What should I do if I receive a probation or suspension notice for my bounce rate?

Fix the underlying problem and appeal to get your case reevaluated. For information about the appeal process, see the FAQs on probation and suspension. In your appeal, in addition to the information requested in the probation and suspension FAQs, tell us the following:

  • The method you use to track your bounces

  • How you ensure that the email addresses of new recipients are valid prior to sending to them. For example, which of the recommendations are you following in Q11. What can I do to minimize bounces?

Q3. What types of bounces count toward my bounce rate?

Your bounce rate includes only hard bounces to domains you have not verified. Hard bounces are permanent delivery failures such as "address does not exist." Temporary and intermittent failures such as "mailbox full," or bounces due to blocked IP addresses, do not count toward your bounce rate.

Q4. Do you disclose the Amazon SES bounce rate limits that trigger probation and suspension?

No, but you can find general bounce rate guidelines and tips on how to avoid bounces in the Amazon Simple Email Service Email Sending Best Practices whitepaper.

Q5. Over what period of time is my bounce rate calculated?

We don't calculate your bounce rate based on a fixed period of time, because different senders send at different rates. Instead, we look at what is called a representative volume, which represents a reasonable amount of mail with which to evaluate your sending practices. To be fair to both high-volume and small-volume senders, the representative volume is different for each user and changes as the user's sending patterns change.

Q6. Can I calculate my own bounce rate by using the information from the Amazon SES console or the GetSendStatistics API?

No. The bounce rate is calculated using representative volume (see Q5. Over what period of time is my bounce rate calculated?). Depending on your sending rate, your bounce rate can stretch farther back in time than the Amazon SES console or GetSendStatistics can retrieve. In addition, only emails to non-verified domains are considered when calculating your bounce rate. However, if you regularly monitor your bounce rates using those methods, you should still have a good indicator that you can use to catch problems before they get to levels that trigger a probation or suspension.

Q7. How can I find out which email addresses bounced?

Examine the bounce notifications that Amazon SES sends you. The email address to which Amazon SES forwards the notifications depends on how you sent the original messages, as described at Amazon SES Notifications Through Email. You can also set up bounce notifications through Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), as described at Monitoring Using Amazon SES Notifications. Note that simply removing bounced addresses from your list without any additional investigation might not solve the underlying problem. For information about what you can do to reduce bounces, see Q11. What can I do to minimize bounces?.

Q8. If I haven't been monitoring my bounces, can you give me a list of addresses that have bounced?

No. We cannot give you a comprehensive list. You should be regularly monitoring your bounces by email or through Amazon SNS.

Q9. How should I handle bounces?

You need to remove bounced addresses from your mailing list and stop sending mail to them immediately. If you are a small sender, it might be sufficient to simply monitor bounces through email and manually remove bounced addresses from your mailing list. If your volume is higher, you will probably want to set up automation for this process, either by programmatically processing the mailbox where you receive bounces, or by setting up bounce notifications through Amazon SNS. For more information, see Monitoring Using Amazon SES Notifications.

Q10. Could my emails be bouncing because I've reached my sending limits?

No. Bounces have nothing to do with sending limits. If you try to exceed your sending limits, you will receive an error from the Amazon SES API or SMTP interface when you try to send an email.

Q11. What can I do to minimize bounces?

First, be sure that you are aware of your bounces (see Q7. How can I find out which email addresses bounced?). Then follow these guidelines:

  • Do not buy, rent, or share email addresses. Use only addresses that specifically requested your mail.

  • Remove bounced email addresses from your list.

  • When you ask for email addresses, ask twice and require a match to minimize typos.

  • Use double opt-in to sign up new users. That is, when a new users sign up, send them a confirmation email that they need to click before receiving any additional mail. This prevents people from signing up other people as well as accidental signups.

  • If you must send to addresses that you haven't mailed lately (and thus you can't be confident that the addresses are still valid), do so only with a small portion of your overall sending. For more information, see our blog post Never send to old addresses, but what if you have to?.

  • Ensure that you are not structuring signups to encourage people to use fictional addresses. Either do not provide any value to new users until their email address is verified, or ask for their address only when they specifically sign up to receive mail.

  • If you have an "email a friend" feature, be sure you use CAPTCHA or a similar mechanism to discourage automated use of the feature, and do not allow arbitrary content to be inserted by the user. For more information about CAPTCHA, see http://www.captcha.net/.

  • If you are using Amazon SES for system notifications, ensure that you are sending the notifications to real addresses that can receive mail. Also consider turning off notifications that you do not need.

  • If you are testing a new system, be sure you are either sending to real addresses that can receive email, or you are using the Amazon SES mailbox simulator. For more information, see Testing Amazon SES Email Sending.

Amazon SES Complaint FAQ

Q1. What is a complaint?

A complaint occurs when a recipient reports that they do not want to receive an email. They might have clicked the "This is spam" button in their email client, complained to their email provider, notified Amazon SES directly, or through some other method. This topic includes general information about complaints. If your notification contains specific information about the source of the complaints, also read the relevant topic: Amazon SES Complaints Through ISP Feedback Loops FAQ, Amazon SES Complaints Directly from Recipients FAQ, or Amazon SES Complaints Through Email Providers FAQ.

Q2. Why do you care about my complaints?

High complaint rates are often used by entities such as ISPs, email providers, and anti-spam organizations as indicators that a sender is sending to recipients who did not specifically sign up to receive emails, or that the sender is sending content that is different from the type that recipients signed up for.

Q3. What should I do if I receive a probation or suspension notice for my complaint rate?

Review your list acquisition process and the content of your emails to try to understand why your recipients might not appreciate your email. Once you have determined the cause, fix the underlying problem and appeal to get your case reevaluated. For information about the appeal process, see the FAQs on probation and suspension.

Q4. What can I do to minimize complaints?

First, be sure that you monitor the complaints that Amazon SES can notify you about, which are complaints that Amazon SES receives through ISP feedback loops (see the Amazon SES Complaints Through ISP Feedback Loops FAQ). Then follow these guidelines:

  • Do not buy, rent, or share email addresses. Use only addresses that specifically requested your mail.

  • Use double opt-in to sign up new users. That is, when users sign up, send them a confirmation email that they need to click before receiving any additional mail. This prevents people from signing up other people as well as accidental signups.

  • Monitor engagement with the mail you send and stop sending to recipients who do not open or click your messages.

  • When new users sign up, be clear about the type of email they will receive from you, and ensure that you send only the type of mail that they signed up for. For example, if users sign up for news updates, do not send them advertisements.

  • Ensure that your mail is well-formatted and looks professional.

  • Ensure that your mail is clearly from you and cannot be confused for something else.

  • Provide users an obvious and easy way to unsubscribe from your mail.

Amazon SES Complaints Through ISP Feedback Loops FAQ

This topic provides information about complaints that Amazon SES receives through feedback loops. For general information that applies to all types of complaints, see the Amazon SES Complaint FAQ.

Q1. How is this type of complaint reported?

Most email client programs provide a button labeled "Mark as Spam," or similar, which moves the message to a spam folder and forwards it to the ISP. Additionally, most ISPs maintain an abuse address (e.g., abuse@example.net), where users can forward unwanted emails and request that the ISP take action to prevent them. If the Amazon SES has a feedback loop (FBL) set up with the ISP, then the ISP will send the complaint back to Amazon SES.

Q2. Are these complaints included in the complaint rate statistic shown in the Amazon SES console and returned by the GetSendStatistics API?

Yes. Note, however, that the complaint rate statistic does not include complaints from ISPs that do not provide feedback to Amazon SES. Nevertheless, the complaint rate from domains that provide feedback is likely to be representative of the rest of your sending as well.

Q3. How can I be notified of these complaints?

You can be notified through email or through Amazon SNS notifications. See the set-up instructions in Monitoring Using Amazon SES Notifications.

Q4. What should I do if I receive a complaint notification through email or through Amazon SNS?

First, you need to remove addresses that generated complaints from your mailing list and stop sending mail to them immediately. Do not even send an email that says you have received the request to unsubscribe. You will probably want to set up automation for this process, either by programmatically processing the mailbox where you receive complaints, or by setting up complaint notifications through Amazon SNS. For more information, see Monitoring Using Amazon SES Notifications.

Then, take a close look at your sending to determine why your recipients do not appreciate the mail you are sending, and address that underlying problem. For every person who complains, there are potentially dozens who didn't appreciate your mail who did not (or were not able to) complain. If all you do is remove the recipients who actually complain, you are not addressing the underlying problem with your sending.

Q5. Do you disclose the Amazon SES complaint rate limits that trigger probation and suspension?

No, but you can find general complaint rate guidelines and tips on how to avoid complaints in the Amazon Simple Email Service Email Sending Best Practices whitepaper.

Q6. Over what period of time is my complaint rate calculated?

We don't calculate your complaint rate based on a fixed period of time, because different senders send at different rates. Instead, we look at what is called a representative volume, which represents a reasonable amount of mail with which to evaluate your sending practices. To be fair to both high-volume and small-volume senders, the representative volume is different for each user and changes as the user's sending patterns change. Additionally, the complaint rate isn't calculated based on every email. It is calculated as the percentage of complaints on mail sent to domains that send complaint feedback to Amazon SES.

Q7. Can I calculate my own complaint rate by using metrics from the Amazon SES console or the GetSendStatistics API?

No. There are two primary reasons for this:

  • The complaint rate is calculated using representative volume (see Q6). Depending on your sending rate, your complaint rate can stretch farther back in time than the Amazon SES console or GetSendStatistics can retrieve. However, if you regularly monitor your complaint rates using those methods, you should still have a good indicator that you can use to catch problems before they get to levels that trigger a probation or suspension.

  • When calculating complaint rate, not every email counts. Complaint rate is calculated as the percentage of complaints on mail sent to domains that send complaint feedback to Amazon SES.

Q8. How can I find out which email addresses complained?

Examine the complaint notifications that Amazon SES sends you through email or through Amazon SNS (see Monitoring Using Amazon SES Notifications). However, different ISPs provide differing amounts of information, and some ISPs redact the complained recipient's email address before passing the complaint notification to Amazon SES. To enable you to find the recipient's email address in the future, your best option is to store your own mapping between an identifier and the Amazon SES message ID that Amazon SES passes back to you when it accepts the email. Note that Amazon SES does not retain any custom message IDs that you add.

Q9. If I haven't been monitoring my complaints, can you give me a list of addresses that have complained?

Unfortunately, we can't give you a comprehensive list. However, you can monitor future complaints by email or through Amazon SNS.

Q10. Can I get a sample email?

We cannot send you a sample email upon request, but you might find this information in the complaint notification. See the answer to Q8.

Amazon SES Complaints Directly from Recipients FAQ

This topic provides information about complaints that Amazon SES receives directly from recipients. For general information that applies to all types of complaints, see the Amazon SES Complaint FAQ.

Q1. How is this type of complaint reported?

Multiple recipients directly contacted Amazon SES about your mail through email or some other means.

Q2. Are these complaints included in the complaint rate statistic shown in the Amazon SES console and returned by the GetSendStatistics API?

No. The complaint rate statistic you retrieve using the Amazon SES console or the GetSendStatistics API only includes complaints that Amazon SES receives through ISP feedback loops. For more information about those types of complaints, see the Amazon SES Complaints Through ISP Feedback Loops FAQ.

Q3. Why haven't I heard about these complaints through email feedback notifications or through Amazon SNS?

Email feedback forwarding and Amazon SNS notifications only include complaints that Amazon SES receives through ISP feedback loops. You will not receive notifications for complaints that recipients filed directly with Amazon SES.

Q4. How can I find out which email addresses complained?

We are unable to disclose the addresses of recipients who complained, but we can say that it is more than one recipient, and the number of complaints is significant when taking your current sending volume into consideration. However, rather than focusing on removing individual recipients from your list, you need to focus on finding and fixing the underlying problem. Start by reviewing your list acquisition process and the content of your emails to try to understand why your recipients might not appreciate your email.

Q5. Can I get a sample email?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide an example of an email that triggered a recipient to directly complain.

Q6. I have received a probation notice for direct recipient complaints. What should I do?

As soon as possible, fix your system so that your mailing list only includes recipients who have specifically signed up to receive your mail, and ensure you are sending content that your recipients actually want. Then, please email us with the details of your changes so that we can start the process of re-evaluating your case. If three weeks pass and we don't hear from you at all, we will have to disable your sending if we are still getting complaints about your mail.

Amazon SES Complaints Through Email Providers FAQ

This topic provides information about complaints that Amazon SES receives through email providers (also called mailbox providers). For general information that applies to all types of complaints, see the Amazon SES Complaint FAQ.

Q1. How is this type of complaint reported?

An email provider reported to Amazon SES that a significant number of its customers marked your emails as spam. The report was provided to Amazon SES through a means other than the feedback loops described in the Amazon SES Complaints Through ISP Feedback Loops FAQ.

Q2. Are these complaints included in the complaint rate statistic shown in the Amazon SES console and returned by the GetSendStatistics API?

No. The complaint rate statistic you retrieve using the Amazon SES console or the GetSendStatistics API only includes complaints that Amazon SES receives through ISP feedback loops.

Q3. Why haven't I heard about these complaints through email feedback notifications or through Amazon SNS?

Email feedback forwarding and Amazon SNS notifications only include complaints that Amazon SES receives through ISP feedback loops.

Q4. How can I find out which email addresses complained?

Email providers typically do not disclose this information. However, rather than focusing on removing individual recipients from your list, you need to focus on finding and fixing the underlying problem. Start by reviewing your list acquisition process and the content of your emails to try to understand why your recipients might not appreciate your email.

Q5. Can I get a sample email?

No. Email providers typically do not provide an example email.

Q6. I have received a probation or shutdown notice for this type of complaint. What should I do?

Fix your system so that your mailing list only includes recipients who have specifically signed up to receive your mail, and ensure that the email content itself is something your recipients actually want. Then, please email us with the details of your changes so that we can start the process of re-evaluating your case. If you are on probation and three weeks pass and we don't hear from you at all, we will have to disable your sending if we are still getting complaints about your mail. If you appealing a shutdown, then the information you send us needs to convince us that if you start sending again, the problem will no longer occur.

Amazon SES Spamtrap FAQ

Q1. What are spamtraps?

A spamtrap is a special email address maintained by an email provider, ISP, or anti-spam organization that is guaranteed not to have a human being behind it. Because that address will never legitimately be signed up to receive email, the organizations that maintain these spamtraps know that anyone who sends mail to any of these addresses is likely engaging in questionable email practices.

Q2. How are spamtraps set up?

Spamtrap addresses can be set up in multiple ways. They can be converted from addresses that were once valid, but have been unused (and bouncing) for an extended period of time. They can also be addresses that were set up just to be spamtraps. They can be unusual addresses that are hard to guess, and sometimes they are addresses that are close to real addresses (for example, introducing a typo into a common domain name). Often, but not always, spamtraps are "seeded" into the world by putting them on the internet in a variety of ways.

Q3. How does Amazon SES know if I am sending to spamtraps?

Certain organizations that operate spamtraps send Amazon SES notifications when their spamtraps are hit by Amazon SES senders.

Q4. How does Amazon SES use the spamtrap reports?

We review the reports, and if we find enough evidence that you have a problem with sending to spamtraps, we will put you on probation and ask you to fix the underlying problem. If you do not fix the problem in the probation period, your account will be suspended. Also, if your spamtrap problem is very severe, you might be immediately suspended without a probation period. As with any suspension, we will send you a notification at that time.

Q5. What should I do if I receive a probation or suspension notice for sending to spamtraps?

Fix the underlying problem and appeal to get your case reevaluated. For information about the appeal process, see the FAQs on probation and suspension. Due to the way spamtrap sending is reported, it will take a minimum of three weeks before we can confirm that a fix you have put in place has succeeded.

Q6. How many spamtrap hits can I have before I am put on probation or suspended?

Spamtrap hits are a very negative sign, so it takes only a small number of them to indicate that you are engaging in questionable sending practices.

Q7. Do you disclose the spamtrap addresses?

No. Spamtrap organizations disclose only the occurrence of spamtrap hits, not the actual spamtrap addresses. This is one of the measures they take to keep spamtrap addresses confidential and effective.

Q8. What can I do to avoid sending to spamtraps?

To reduce the risk of sending to spamtraps, follow these guidelines:

  • Do not buy, rent, or share email addresses. Use only addresses that specifically requested your mail.

  • Ensure that you ask for the email address twice to reduce the chance of typos.

  • Use double opt-in to sign up new users. That is, when users sign up, send them a confirmation email that they need to click before receiving any additional mail.

  • Ensure that you remove addresses that hard bounce from your list, so that they are removed long before they are converted to spamtraps.

  • Ensure that you are monitoring engagement by your recipients, and stop sending to recipients who have not engaged with your emails or website recently. Time frames for what an "engaged user" is depend on your use case, but generally speaking if users haven't opened or clicked your emails in several months, you should consider removing them unless you have evidence that they do want your mail.

  • Be very careful with re-engagement campaigns where you intentionally contact people who have not interacted with you recently. These efforts tend to be highly risky, and can often cause problems not only with spamtrap sending, but also with bounces and complaints.

  • Send an opt-in message to your entire mailing list and keep only the recipients who click on the verification link. In addition to removing inactive recipients from your list, this procedure will remove spamtrap addresses as well. However, we do not recommend using this technique if you think that your mailing list might contain a lot of bad addresses and/or you already have a problem with bounces, because it might cause your bounce rate to reach the point at which your sending is put on probation or shut down.

Amazon SES Manual Investigation FAQ

Q1. I received a probation or shutdown notice for a manual investigation. What does that mean?

An Amazon SES investigator has identified a significant problem with your sending. Typical problems include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Your sending violates the AWS Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).

  • Your emails appear to be unsolicited.

  • Your content is associated with a use case that Amazon SES does not support.

If the problem is correctable, your account is put on probation and you are given a certain amount of time (rather than a certain volume of mail, as with bounces and complaints) to correct the problem. If the problem is uncorrectable, your account is suspended without a probation period.

Q2. Why would you do a manual investigation?

There are a variety of reasons. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Recipients contact Amazon SES to complain about your emails.

  • We detect a significant change in your sending patterns.

  • The spam filters of Amazon SES flag a significant portion of your emails.

The probation or suspension notification indicates the issue at a high level. For some problems, we are able to provide more specific details.

Q3. What are "unsolicited" emails?

Unsolicited emails are emails that the recipient did not specifically sign up for. This includes cases in which a recipient signs up for a certain type of mail (for example, notifications), and instead is sent a different type of mail (for example, advertisements). If the probation or suspension notice indicates that unsolicited sending is your problem, you should provide the following information in your appeal:

  • Are all the messages that you send specifically requested by the recipient, and do they comply with the AUP?

  • Have you acquired email addresses in any way other than a customer specifically interacting with you or your website and requesting emails from it? You should explain how you accumulated your mailing list.

  • How do your subscribe and unsubscribe processes work? You should include your opt-in and opt-out links.

Also, feel free to provide any other information you might have to assure us that your email list was accumulated and is managed using the practices described in the Amazon Simple Email Service Email Sending Best Practices whitepaper.

Q4. What should I do if I receive a probation or suspension notice for a manual investigation?

As with any probation or suspension, fix the underlying problem that is causing the issue specified in the probation or suspension notice, and then appeal to get your case reevaluated. For information about the appeal process, see the FAQs on probation and suspension.

Q5. What types of problems do you view as "correctable?"

Generally, we believe the situation is correctable if you have a history of good sending practices, and if there are steps you can take to eliminate the problematic sending while continuing the bulk of your sending. For example, if you are sending three different types of email and only one type is problematic, you might be able to simply stop the problematic sending and continue with the rest of your sending.

Q6. What if I cannot find the source of the problem?

You can respond to the notification (or email ses-enforcement@amazon.com from the email address associated with your AWS account) and request a sample of the mail that caused the issue.